Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Saint Maeldobharchon of Kildare, February 19


February 19 sees the commemoration in the Irish calendars of Saint Maeldobharchon, a bishop of Kildare. Canon O'Hanlon summarizes what is known of him:

St. Maeldobharchon, or Maeldobhorchon, Bishop of Kildare, County of Kildare. [Seventh and Eighth Centuries]

The Bollandists have a brief entry of this holy bishop, at the 19th of February. The Martyrologies of Tallagh and of Marianus O'Gorman, and of Donegal, on this day, record Maeldobharchon or Maoldobhorchon, Bishop of Cilldara, now Kildare, in the county of the same denomination. It seems likely enough, the Abbot of Kildare, Lochen, surnamed Meann, or the Silent, also called Lochen, "the Wise," who died on the 12th of January, or 12th of June, a.d. 694, as also St. Farannan, Abbot of Kildare, who died on the 15th of January, a.d. 691, may have exercised episcopal functions over this see. If so, it is probable, the present holy man succeeded this latter. According to Colgan, he died a.d. 704 but, the Annals of the Four Masters state, that this prelate died, a.d. 707. According to the Annals of Ulster, he departed this life in the year 708.

The entries from the Annals are also quoted in the essay on the Bishops of Kildare by the Rev. Michael Comerford:

"A.D. 707. MAELDOBORCON, Bishop of Kildare, died on the 19th of February."(Four Masters.) "A.D. 708. Maeldoborcon, Episcopus Cille-daro, pausavit." (Annal Ult.) The death of this Prelate is stated by some to have taken place in the year 704 (Ware). Keating (Book, 2, p. 46,) relates that King Congall Kennmagar persecuted the Church at this time, and burned the secular and regular clergy of Kildare; but Lanigan discredits this statement, judging to the contrary from the peaceable and prosperous reign ascribed to this monarch by old writers. A great conflagration, it is true, laid Kildare waste in 709. (Four Masters), during this King's reign ; and, as we may suppose that some clerics lost their lives in this fire, this circumstance may have given occasion to the story.

Rev. M. Comerford 'Collections Relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin' (Dublin, 1883), 5.

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